3D Printing is often considered to be more expensive than injection molding when used as production manufacturing process at higher volumes. But that is simply not the case any more. In many situations, 3D printing is more affordable due to the implementation of large scale 3D printing farms, such as Slant 3D, which utilize hundreds of printers operating 24/7.
Just take a look at the chart below. It is a comparison of the effective cost per part if using 3D printing versus injection molding.
In this case it is estimated that a mold would immediately cost the client $5000 to have manufactured. Now molding costs do vary depending on the size and shape of the part and where it is made. But, on the whole, when you consider design time, iterations, and the spectrum of mold sizes, $5000 is a very good average. After the mold is made the price per part is $0.20.
However, the 3D printing cost per part is only $0.70 per part, and there is no initial investment to get set-up.
In this situation it is more economical to use 3D printing to manufacture the part if you are creating less than about 10,000 units. This is because it takes that many units for the effective cost per injection molded part to drop below the 3D printed cost per part.
Now Consider the other benefits. 3D printing allows you to update and change you design throughout the entire production process. It also increases your speed to market, because there is not all the time spent on the design, set-up and collaboration with an injection molder. All that is needed is an e-mail with the design file attached. 3D printing provides you a product immediately without a large upfront investment, And there are fewer limitations in geometry when designing the part.
Overall, 3D printing is a much more affordable option to injection molding when producing several thousand parts. It reduces your risk and your expenditure. For start-ups or small businesses this is invaluable and opens up opportunities that have never existed before.
If you are interested in having your product 3D printed send us your design and we will work up a quote and some samples for you to take a look at.
Production 3D printing offers the opportunity to not just recreate and refurbish old products, but improve upon them.
There are literally thousands of plastic products that are no longer manufactured. The trouble is that they are often part of something that is still used. It could be the AC knob on a 1980's Ford pickup truck. The plastic wheel from a collectible car. Or the cover to a piece of dental equipment. Using production 3D printing, replacement parts for these obsolete products can be created affordably and reliably, to make them better than ever and rebuild inventories.
In 2018 we were approached by a client refurbishing dental equipment. The cases of the machines were no longer manufactured. So they were having to salvage from old machines, or sell machines with slightly damaged cases. This hurt the margins of the product and was a constant irritation. On top of it, the covers were outdated in appearance. The orange peel texture and beige color looked like what they were, something from the 90's, which they were.
But our team took the cover and went to work. Our Engineers and 3D modelers took the base dimensions from the original cover, and then started the redesign. The result was a fully updated cover that could be 3D printed in our large format production printers, and looked modern. The client now has a reliable supply chain of top quality replacement parts for the machine. And they look better than the originals.
How to create a 3D printed supply chain of obsolete parts
Most obsolete parts do not have 3D models available. Most do not even have detailed drawings. So they must be recreated from scratch. While this is a hassle, it is very valuable, because it allows our engineers to optimize the design for 3D printing so the resulting production parts are as good as the original.
In order to start the process simply take a photo of the part and submit it through our quoting form. One of our team members will evaluate the part and get back to you within 1-2 business days with a plan for producing the part. They will then provide a quote for the design of the 3D model of the part and production of whatever quantity required.
Once the quote has been created the part will need to be delivered to Slant 3D. When the piece arrives it will be either 3D scanned or reverse engineered and modified. Once that is complete it is ready for production at whatever volumes necessary, be it 10 or 1000
Slant 3D has manufactured 3D printed copies of obsolete parts for everyone from the auto industry to the toy industry. There is no one who knows better how to bring your part into the 3D printing manufacturing world.
3D Printing manufacturing allows for the creation and production of impossible parts that can't be created with any other process.
3D printing is the most versatile plastic forming process available. Arguably the most versatile manufacturing process available. Geometry-wise you can literally create anything. Now there are sometimes tradeoffs in quality, speed, and overall manufacturability when you make "anything" but rarely do you have to completely redesign an part to have it 3D printed. This is the primary reason that 3D printing has been embraced as a prototyping technology. But as a production technology, where thousands of parts are created, 3D printing manufacturing offers capabilities beyond what traditional processes, like injection molding ever could.
3D printed parts can have geometries within geometries. In the example of the fractal above, this pyramid has a repeating pattern throughout. There are triangular holes inside and outside the pyramid in all 3 dimensions. It would be impossible to mold this shape, because there is no way to remove the part from the mold because of its complexity. Even if it were possible it would be phenomenally expensive.
Another simple impossible part would be a hollow Cube that is not thin-walled. Or perhaps a solid cube with a sphere of space inside of it. There is no way that any other process than 3D printing can create those types of geometries. because no tool can create a void inside a part without cutting though the outside of the part.
Another example of impossible parts are shown above. These gear shafts were built around a bearing, making the entire assembly effectively a single part. Traditionally plastic parts would have to be designed to interlock, and pull apart so that a bearing could be added. In this particular case what is now manufactured as a single assembly would be have to be split into the gear, the toothed pulley, the shaft, and the bearing. Then they would all be assembled after each was manufactured individually.
Since this part was 3D printed. The gear, pulley, and shaft could be combined into a single part. Then, during production, each part would pause to have the bearing added. Then the part would continue to be built around it. 3D printing reduced 4 parts into 2 that are manufactured as 1. The manufacturing cost was dramatically reduced because there was no assembly and none of the tooling needed to make 3 new parts and combine them with 1 bearing.
3D Printing is an incredibly valuable process for creating impossible parts. And now that it is possible to created thousands of these parts with 3D printing manufacturers, designers and engineers are free to create much more efficient and complicated parts to use in their products.
Get an estimate for production of your parts at our online quote form.
If you ever visit a youtube channel or blog, more often then not you are going to be asked to "check out their store for branded swag." Generally this merchandise is limited to apparel, like tee-shirts and some posters. Youtubers and content creators generally don't add anything else because it's either not very profitable or not very unique. T-shirt designs stand out, keychains do not.
But with 3D printing it is now possible for everything from toys and statuettes of the host to keychains and pins to be made for the store and truly differentiate what the channel has to offer. 3D printing also helps with the business model, because the channel can run preorder campaigns on websites such as Celery and then have the 3D printer manufacturer make only the volume of units ordered. Even custom t-shirts have minimum volumes that must be created to make it worth it.
3D printing lets creators, control their brand merchandise at a level that has never been possible. And 3D printing companies often have partner programs, where they will handle 3D design of merchandise in order to partner with creators. Simply contact 3D printing manufacturers, like Slant 3D, and let us know what you want.
Here the step-by-step how to create 3D printed merchandise for your blog, website, or youtube channel.
Most Kickstarters are really just a market validation. Proof that there are people out there who will buy your product if you create. But a Kickstarter generally doesn't really make much money, After all of the launch costs and production of preorders, most kickstarters are lucky if they break even.
This problem is even more pronounced for hardware projects, when, once funded, the team has to pay for molds (thousands of dollars) fight production delays, and pay for inventory. It is not cheap, And while Kickstarter gives you a "kickstart" if doesn't fund much of this unless your campaign is wildly successful and the product is ready for production.
But what if molding and inventory wasn't a problem? With the growth of 3D printing farms, which can produce at volumes comparable to injection molding, there is really little reason to use molds, especially when you are just starting out.
3D Printing does not have a minimum volume of production, and if you are working with a good farm, the set-up fees will be minimal. For kickstarters, which generally only have a few thousand units to produce this can be godsend.
Now there is a question of cost. Most people perceive 3D printing has been a very expensive alternative, especially on a per unit basis compared to molds. Actually, at this moment production 3D printing is only about 1-1.5 times more expensive than injection molding. If you were going to pay 50 cents per unit for injection molded parts, there is good chance you can get the same part 3D printed for about $1.00 to $1.50. This is not a bad option when you are faced with the choice of using all of your funding to produce the parts for your backers, or using all of your funding to jsut get set-up to produce the parts for your kickstarter with molds.
Overall, 3D printing is a great method for getting your first few runs of production out the door. It is is fast, affordable, and give you flexibility and security when you are starting out. Molds are a large investment and risk that just get you ready to start.
Littlebots is a great example of using 3D printing to start and grow a Kickstarted business.
The LittleBots are a family of 3D printed educational robotics kits. Each one of the 5 kits was put through Kickstarter. Every plastic part was 3D printed by Slant 3D. At this point, the LittleBots' LittleArm is one of the most popular robotics kits in the world and is still fully 3D printed.
LittleBots uses 3D printing partly because they wanted their kits to be modifiable, both by their customers and by themselves. They have created 5 separate kits and each kit is constantly upgrading. Having the kits be 3D printed allows LittleBots to develop and market new kits without any more investment than a prototype and a video to get started. Their start-up costs are minimal, and their manufacturing costs are only that of the parts, no tooling.
Using 3D printing LittleBots is able to reliable manufacture new kits, without having to worry about storing inventory, or worrying about molds being wasted because of a mistake in the design. They can also have a product to market in weeks rather than months. And since there are no minimum orders LittleBots is able to run small, profitable Kickstarter campaigns, without fear of having to hit a high magic number to afford production.
If Littlebots was using traditional manufacturing methods, they likely would never have been created. But 3D printing lets them leverage platforms such as Kickstarter much more to their benefit. Now they use the platform as a store as much as a jumping off point.
3D printed keychains provide the ultimate in customizability. Normally when a business looks for promotional products they shoose form a list of generic items that then have the businesses logo printed onto them. This makes them look cheap and generic. 3D printed keychains allow a business to create a keychains that is completely unique from what any other organization may be giving away at a tradeshow.
Slant 3D manufactures custom 3D printed keychains for any number of clients. All a business has to do is provide us their logo and we will convert it into a 3D printable design and produce whatever quntity you need whether it be 10 or 10,000. The the price is identical to normal custom keychains (40-80 cents apiece)
To order your own custom 3D printed keychain, visit this page and send us your logo and we will convert it into a 3D printable design and send you a quote
3D printed business cards really get attention. When you are at a trade show, a party, or any other event where you may give out a card, you want to ensure that it stands out. Slant 3D manufactures completely unique 3D printed plastic business cards. They are rigid and can be made in any size or shape that best defines your company. When everyone else is handing around slips of paper with different colored ink you want a card that make a statement.
3D printed business cards are also not more expensive than most premium business cars. They can be made for as low as 49 cents apiece.
To order your custom cards, simply send your logo to us with any information you would like on the card and any style preferences you have, and we will create a design and quote for you within 1-2 days.
We are happy to announce a new service. Custom 3D printed Business Cards and 3D Printed Keychains for businesses. Now, instead of just standard 2D printed give-aways, companies can stand out at tradeshows and conferences.
To order simply send in your business card or logo to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our designers will convert it into a 3D design that can then be produced in any quantity you want, from 10 to 1000.
Pricing is based on volume and there is an initial conversion/design fee per individual design of $25.